Recently we met with the team at Nestle UK, and they offered to answer some of your questions about how they work. After gathering your suggestions on Facebook, we passed the five most liked questions onto Nestle. These are the answers from Nestle's Corporate Affairs team for questions 3, 4 and 5. The answers to the first two questions are published here. Our thanks to Alison and Sam at Nestle for being open to such dialogue.
3/ Clarice Fell: Hi there, so great what you guys do. I recently took a 4 month trip to Uganda Africa. I saw where coffee is made. Where the beans are grown. Nescafe and other major coffee brands buy their beans from there. They pay next to nothing for it the workers live in extreme poverty. The companies put massive taxes on the coffee and charge us massive prices. I don't know how one of the world’s biggest exports leaves it's workers in poverty. I know that this same senario is like for chocolate the coco beans are sort the same way. If anything ask them to provide better pay and living conditions to the ones who actually grow the coco beans. As without them there wouldn't even be chocolate. Ask them to follow Cadbury’s league and make it fair trade. Thanks any way for all the hard work. Praying for justice for our world. :)
For more than 30 years, we have been working with our coffee suppliers to encourage sustainable farming and improve the living standards of coffee-farming communities. To do this we need to address global issues such as food and water security and work with coffee farmers to improve the quality and quantity of their produce as this is crucial to increasing their income.
In August 2010 Nestlé launched The Nescafé Plan, a global initiative which aims to help guarantee a long term supply of quality coffee produced with a lower environmental impact. The plan will be implemented with the support of Rainforest Alliance, other partners from the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) and the 4C Association (Common Code for the Coffee Community Association).
The plan outlines our commitments in three key areas; coffee farming, coffee production and consumption and is backed by an investment of £213 million until 2020. Similar to The Cocoa Plan, The Nescafé Plan accelerates and expands programmes of support that we have been involved in for decades. We believe it will help us guarantee a long term supply of quality coffee by making coffee farming more attractive to the next generation of farmers and enable them to produce coffee with a lower environmental impact. Information is available for consumers on both www.nestle.com and http://www.nescafe.com/sustainability-uk.
4/ Jenny Jones: I live in Australia and if I see something with Nestle attached to it I deliberately don't buy it. So my question would be: "when will you step up and lead the world in becoming a fair company that puts your fellow humans in front of your massive profit? I'm sure you can afford to do this. That's when I will start supporting your products again."
Nestlé’s basic business principle is that we can only create value for our shareholders if we at the same time create value for society and we have identified three focus areas where, for Nestlé, business and societal value creation can be optimized and these are nutrition, water and rural development. We call this Creating Shared Value (CSV).
About half of our factories are in developing countries and we source about 70% of our raw materials from these rural areas. CSV means that more than just being present in these regions, we are actively leveraging our presence to reduce poverty, improve nutrition and health, and preserve the environment for future generations.
We have recently published a report which outlines over 290 business activities and programmes which support one or more of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (http://www.community.nestle.com/Pages/mdg-landing.aspx) which you may be interested in looking at. The projects range from supporting female livestock workers in Pakistan to helping farmers in our supply chain reduce the environmental impact of the crops they produce.
5/ Awal Ahmed: I want to know what measures they have in their contract to ensure environmental sustainable production methods at the community level and what they are doing to reduce communities vulnerability to climate change?
Environmental responsibility is a key component of our Corporate Business Principles and Supplier Codes (http://bit.ly/ieh2aB and http://bit.ly/dKZ4TH). As a company our aim is to not just offer products with the lowest environmental impact compared to alternatives but to work throughout our supply chains to reduce the environmental impacts of farming and crop production and promote sustainable agriculture. A key component of our major initiatives such as The Cocoa Plan and The Nescafé Plan is to help farmers produce crops in a way that minimises the environmental impact while maximising yields and to help them deal with challenges such as climate change. For example we supply coffee and cocoa farmers with high potential plantlets which produce earlier and are bred to be disease resistant. We have also highlighted water as a priority issue. Aside from our global commitment as a founding signatory of the CEO Water Mandate an initiative led by the United Nations Global Compact, we are committed to improve our efforts in sustainable water management across the business www.nestle.com/csv/environment. As agriculture uses two thirds of the world’s water we also work with farmers and suppliers to encourage effective water management – in courntries ranging from Italy to Cote d’Ivoire. Our drip irrigation project in Nicaragua is a good example of working collaboratively to develop a low-cost drip irrigation system to be used in plantations where we source coffee as part of a public private partnership between Nestlé, ECOM, the Rainforest Alliance and International Development Enterprises IDE covering 1500 coffee farmers. Through the sustainable use and control of water we can accelerate plant growth and achieve better quality crops even during water-stress periods. You can read more about this and other projects in our MDG Report www.community.nestle.com/mdg7 or on the section on water on www.nestle.com.
Yesterday we posted a blog from one of our readers about their views on a recent WaterAid UK TV advert. We offered them the chance to respond yesterday evening resceived the following from them.
Our thanks go out to WaterAid for agreeing to respond and put forward their views to widen the debate.
WaterAid helps some of the world’s poorest people gain access to safe water, hygiene education and sanitation, which, as the article correctly states, are essential to end extreme poverty.
As an organization we are committed to the people we serve, and have a strict ethical policy on the procurement and use of images. We are passionate about protecting the dignity of the people we work with, as well as portraying an accurate picture of our work and its effects. We only photograph and film in communities where we work, or are going to work, and ensure that we have the consent of the people in the photographs and that they understand why we are taking images of them, and what they will be used for.
Our advertising allows us the opportunity to raise awareness of the situation, as well as being a means to raise vital funds for our work. The article is right in saying we do need to grab the UK audience’s attention because it is a challenge to find people willing to give £2 a month. But it is a challenge we have to tackle head on if we are to make that difference.
This is why the advert focuses on the very real and urgent need of 884 million people who are living without clean water – showing the need is an essential part of this narrative. It may be shocking, but the reality is shocking and we can’t shy away from showing this if we are to change it.
With our advertising we have to find an instant way to engage with people who are not always aware of the issues that face so many people in the world. We have found that people do react to a simple presentation of the facts: that 4,000 children are dying every day from diarrhoea. But the advert does also show the community building their own wells and pumps, which is a key way in which WaterAid works; helping people to help themselves.
We have to be aware of our audiences and tailor our narrative approach accordingly. We have actually tested other approaches that were less need focused, one just earlier this year, but it drove four times less response than this advert. We have a duty to our supporters to ensure every single penny we spend on advertising makes a good return – normally £4 to every pound spent .
There is an increasing debate over how images of poverty are used, and this is one that WaterAid welcomes, as our aim is to help people to lead a life of dignity, free of poverty.
In bottles, from the tap, sparkling or flat, from an idyllic spring or a mountain creek: many of us take the ubiquity of safe drinking water for granted.
However, 1 billion people do not have adequate access to safe drinking water. Part of Goal 7 of the Millenium Development Goals is to halve that number by 2015. In order to achieve this we must understand the impact water scarcity can have on availability. In this guest blog, Emma Herman from Fairfood International takes a closer look at this precious resource.
We may well live on the Blue Planet, but some populated regions are getting dangerously dry, pushing people into thirst, hunger and poverty. Although we do not face a global water crisis yet, advocating a more sustainable use of water resources in agriculture is fundamental if we want to improve access to fresh water for all.
Why agriculture? Because according to the FAO 70% of global water use is related to agricultural activity. Rice is the thirstiest crop, with an annual production estimated to account for about 21% of global crop water use, followed by wheat at around 12%. Problems with the unsustainable use of water also occur in many other crops such as maize, mango, oranges, pineapple, sugar cane, coconut and ginger, amoungst others.
Sustainable use of water in agriculture implies more efficient management, especially of irrigation practices. In many dry regions of the globe, high crop yields and consequently food security and income gains are dependent on irrigation, which accounts for 60% of total available water resources in the Near East and North Africa.
Since all water on earth is part of the natural water cycle, even water used for agricultural processes will at a certain point need to be accessible for drinking and sanitation and so sustainable use of water also means a reduction in wastewater production, and minimising water pollution.
Access to clean and drinkable water are crucial for alleviating poverty and hunger. When water is polluted or scarce living conditions worsen dramatically, as do economic conditions for those active in agriculture. Not surprisingly, the FAO reminds us that the highest concentration of rural poverty coincides with the areas where water and sanitation are dramatically lacking.
So far, the goal of clean and healthy water accessible to all is far from being achieved. But a number of innovative solutions are coming out of international efforts, such as the idea of international standards of water sustainability, proposed by the Alliance for Water Stewardship, or a water footprint label on the products on supermarket shelves, stating the total amount of fresh water used in their production. You might be surprised to learn that it takes 200 litres of water just to produce your morning cup of latte!
If the ideal of more sustainable use of water is to become a reality, the food and beverage industry has to commit to this goal, take its responsibility and share knowledge and good practices concerning sustainable water use. Every drop counts: by adding individual improvements in water use made by brand owners in the food and beverage industry, large and small, a real change can be made.
Currently Fairfood are running an interesting viral video campaign Â‘Face Your FoodÂ’ to compel people to reflect on these issues and is well worth a look.
In the developing world millions of people are dependent on their immediate environment for their food, livelihoods, sanitation and shelter. This makes them very vulnerable when changes in their environment occur. An unpredictable environment can be catastrophic, for example millions of people rely on seasonal rains to water crops, refresh wells, lakes and rivers. When they are late or fail the consequences are widespread and disastrous.
The seventh Millennium Development Goal – ensuring environmental sustainability – is about trying to reduce the control that a person’s environment has over their life, by improving the environment and ensuring that it is preserved for future generations.
An important part of this is about having clean water to drink and sanitation facilities.
The video shows how improving Stidia’s environment, through the provision of clean water to her village, truly changed her life. This Tearfund project meant that, as well as improving her family and community’s access to water, she was no longer open to attack when walking for miles to collect water. The time saved meant she was able to go to school, improving her future prospects immeasurably.
Beyond the time saved by the water-tank, Stidia and her family are also now less at risk of drinking dirty water. Diahorrea caused by dirty water kills almost 2 million children every year.
Clean water and improved sanitation can also mean fewer intestinal parasites – what we often think of as worms. There’s some fascinating research that suggests that worms are one of the biggest factors preventing children from attending school. Therefore, by improving sanitation we would not need to spend so much on antibiotics and medical treatments for such conditions, and we could improve the numbers of children in education significantly.
These examples are an important reminder that one intervention to fight poverty can have important follow-on effects.
The good news is that we are on course to meet the 2015 target of halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water. But – the same can’t be said for sanitation, where half the population of developing regions still lack basic sanitation facilities like toilets. Our governments need to know we care about these problems, and that when we target water and sanitation, we make it easier to meet the other MDG goals.